Proliferation of virtual reality entertainment
Because virtual reality can cause the illusion of achievement without experience, there is the danger that perception of personal development could be based on delusion. Self-esteem ([eg] winning a sporting competition) or self-gratification ([eg] giving birth to a baby) may be able to be experienced the "easy way", with little understanding of undesirable side-effects. There is already some concern over the effect of arcade games on eyesight and mental disorientation, but there is little official monitoring. The medical profession does not appear to be interested in research into the psychological and physiological effects, and there are no established health and safety standards.
In Germany, a man drove his car into a ditch because he thought he was still in the virtually-real world where he could come to no harm.
Virtual reality is a moral minefield. If television is suspected of having a damaging effect on unstable minds, how much more powerful would be the effects of total immersion in a film-like world in which anything becomes possible ? Peoples' preferences for the artificial world could reach epidemic proportions if they feel more secure in a world they can control. The result could be mass automatism and and inability to adapt to the real world. The initial reaction of a lot of people when placed in the virtually-real world and confronted by adversity is one of violence. Need the social codes and value which structure society apply in a Virtually Real world ? If moral control is to be exercised, how and by whom ? To hack someone to death in the virtually-real world could reinforce violent impulses in the real world; or else the person may live the rest of life in guilt for a crime he did not really commit. The horrors of the snuff video transposed into Virtual reality, or of pornographers peddling ghastly scenarios of child abuse and perversion, are too monstrous to contemplate. Virtual sex has already been created. In time it might be possible for people to select a screen idol from a computer menu for a night of virtual entertainment.
Pupils in an English school have won a substantial contract to create a virtually-real city for language lessons. Pupils learning French, for instance, could be immersed in the streets of Paris where they would have the sense of wandering through shops and cafés and talking to people they meet in French.